Preservation is a Crucial Step To An Organized Photo Collection

Print photo preservation is often overlooked. While most of us shoot digital photos these days via our sophisticated phones, printed photos are still a large part of most people’s personal archives. But many folks are unaware of how best to store and preserve them. As a result, prints tend to languish in shoeboxes, shopping bags, albums, in attics and basements, closets…out of sight and out of mind. Printed photos, if properly cared for, can last 100-plus years. They are truly future-proof and do not need to be updated with the next tech upgrade.

The right storage is crucial to making sure your archive is preserved for you, as well as future generations, to enjoy. Printed photos need a stable environment to preserve them. Cool and dry air with low humidity is ideal, along with good circulation. They should be free from dust and light sources.

Strategies To Manage, Organize, and Preserve Your Prints

• Attics and basements are not good places to store paper (of any kind). The temperature fluctuations, as well as dampness and mold will wreak havoc with printed images. Also, proximity to water is not recommended – this includes dishwashers, washing machines, air conditioners, sinks, humidifiers etc.

• Direct heating sources can damage photos. Avoid hanging photos above or near radiators, heating pipes and ducts, fireplaces, or heat-producing appliances.

• Light, from both natural and artificial sources, will cause fading and damage to original prints. Consider using a duplicate image to be displayed in or near direct sunlight or other bright lights. Darker areas of the home are best for displaying any original prints (such as hallways). UV-protective window treatments and glass can help minimize this issue.

• Always choose preservation quality mats, frames, and UV-protective glass for displaying photos. Indoor pollution is a growing problem and can damage photos that are not protected.

• If using photo albums, avoid the magnetic versions which contain adhesives that will damage your photos. Instead, opt for photo mounting corners, available at art and photo supply stores or online. Albums should not be made of vinyl or PVC.

• Original photos can also be stored in archival, acid-free boxes that are safe environments for long-term storage. Digital copies can be made into photo books for sharing and displaying.

I hope these tips help when it comes time to manage, organize and preserve your printed images!